Weekly Review — December 15, 2016, 1:26 pm

Weekly Review

Donald Trump appoints a man suing the EPA to lead the EPA, members of the KKK say they aren’t white supremacists, and police fake an incident of police brutality

WeeklyReviewJK-captionU.S. president-elect Donald Trump, a former reality-television star who once tweeted that he never saw “a thin person drinking Diet Coke,” announced that his choice for secretary of labor would be Andrew Puzder, who during his time as CEO of the company that owns fast-food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. helped revitalize the brand with ads of semi-nude women eating hamburgers.[1][2] Trump, who once also tweeted that climate change was a hoax perpetrated by “the Chinese,” appointed as head of the EPA Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, who is currently suing the agency.[3][4] Trump announced his choice for secretary of state was Rex Tillerson, who is the CEO of ExxonMobil and has received the Order of Friendship from Russia.[5] The president elect, who asked Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email in July, said that the C.I.A.’s finding that Russia influenced the election in his favor was “ridiculous.”[6] It was announced that a North Carolina man would face federal charges after he fired an AR-15 assault rifle inside a pizza restaurant while investigating a conspiracy theory about child trafficking, which was supposedly based on the emails that the CIA concluded Russia had stolen from Clinton aide John Podesta.[7] “Until #Pizzagate is proven false, it’ll remain a story,” tweeted Michael G. Flynn, the son of Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s choice for national-security adviser, who previously tweeted a fake news story accusing Clinton of being connected to a similar child sex-trafficking scheme.[8][9] Pizza places in New York and Washington, D.C., received threats of violence, and Pope Francis compared the spreading of fake news to “the sickness of coprophilia,” the condition of being aroused by feces.[10][11]

The United Nations announced that air strikes by the Syrian government on civilians “most likely constitutes war crimes,” and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said Trump could be his “natural ally.”[12][13] A senior Afghan official accused a former warlord who now holds the title of first vice president of kidnapping and sexually assaulting him, and it was reported that an anti-kidnapping expert has been missing for eight years, since he was kidnapped in Mexico.[14][15] Peru launched its first nightly news broadcast in Quechua, the language of the Inca empire, and a judge in New Jersey ordered a newspaper not to cover a criminal case involving a five-year-old boy who brought drugs to school.[16][17] The Los Angeles city attorney announced that he had filed lawsuits seeking to evict members of a white-supremacist gang, and members of the Ku Klux Klan, whose official rulebook states that the group “shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of White Supremacy,” told reporters they were not white supremacists.[18][19] It was reported that an Australian man was released from prison after the start of a seven-year sentence he received for withdrawing $1.3 million from his bank, which had accidentally granted him unlimited overdraft privileges, and spending it on cocaine, prostitutes, and a speedboat.[20] A man in Illinois modified a child’s Power Wheels car with a 160cc Honda engine, making it capable of traveling at 40 miles per hour, and a complaint was filed with the Federal Trade Commission over a company whose toys record children speaking and send the information to a defense contractor.[21][22]

A woman in Tampa, Florida, was charged with transmitting threats in interstate commerce after she sent messages such as “You gonna die” to the parent of one of the 20 children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary-school shooting, which she believed was a hoax created by the Obama Administration to promote gun control; police in Oklahoma seized weapons and ammunition from the home of a 13-year-old student accused of plotting a school shooting; and police in Mobile, Alabama, faked an incident of police brutality as part of a man’s wedding proposal, pulling the man over and drawing inactive tasers on him, before allowing the man to reach into his pocket and pull out a ring for his crying girlfriend. “I felt like that was the perfect setup to do something like that,” said the man, “and bring everybody together.”[23][24][25] It was reported that 99 police officers quit in Dallas in the last 10 weeks, as did the entire police department in Bunker Hill, Indiana.[26][27] In Evansville, Indiana, the county prosecutor announced that a group of suspended officers who beat a handcuffed suspect for three minutes will not be charged with any crimes; in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, a police officer who reportedly shut off his body camera while allegedly choking a suspect in a hospital bed was placed back on duty; and the family of a 73-year-old California man suffering from dementia who was shot and killed in his driveway by police said the man was unarmed and holding a crucifix.[28][29][30] In the Philippines, where police have killed nearly 6,000 people suspected of drug involvement since July, President Rodrigo Duterte told a group of business leaders that, when he was the mayor of the southern city of Davao, he would drive around the city on a motorcycle and personally execute suspects. “Just to show the guys,” he said, “if I can do it, why can’t you?”[31]

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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